Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Red Velvet Albert Slippers

            I rose early as is my want, donned my imperial paisley dressing gown, neatly tied my ascot, slipped into my red velvet Albert slippers and headed for the kitchen.  Generally I rise before Mother.  She likes to lie abed, seldom rising before nine in the morning.  This morning was no different.

            Once in the kitchen I took down the Brown Betty teapot from the cabinet, filled it a quarter full of hot water from the electric kettle, swished it around, and placed several teaspoons of Lapsang Souchong in the pot.  I find a good strong tea very bracing in the morning.  I also prefer my morning cuppa in a Royal Staffordshire mug, not a dainty cup.

            This morning I had a lot on my mind.  Business has been dreadful the last few years and only by some careful scrimping and planning have I been able to come through the downturn without laying off valued employees.  Well that’s not entirely true.  I did fire, Henry Widdershins, that lazy oaf; but only because he was so thoroughly ineffectual.  Oh, yes.  I also was able to grant Ophelia Martin an early retirement.  Those two things helped retain the balance of my employees.

            Part of what is bothering me is a business proposition.  One of my suppliers informed me that a whole load of cashmere sweaters was about to drop off the back of one of his trucks.  “Would I be interested in a bargain price on those sweaters?”  Of course, unspoken, was the fact that his insurance would pay for the purloined shipment.  Years ago I wouldn’t have hesitated.  After all, business is business.

            That is the problem with reading the Bible; sometimes business isn’t just business, sometimes its theft, and now it bothers me.  To tell the truth, I find that quite annoying.  A conscience is an embarrassing thing to develop.

            Well, I’ve been reading in James.  I like James; he rather straightforward and tells it like it is.  Obviously when the crunch is on, one has to do the right thing, “faith without works is dead.”[i]  I don’t know if I have faith, but at least I can try to do the right thing.

            Now don’t whisper a word of this to Mother, but I actually prayed for the first time this morning.  After all James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.”[ii]

            Well, I was sitting there mulling all this over when Mother came in.

            “Good morning, Alfred,” said Mother eyeing the open Bible on my lap curiously.

            “Yes, Mother,” said I.  “I know that things have been very difficult economically at the store, but I have decided to give all of our employees a Christmas bonus this year.”

            “Very nice, Alfred,” said Mother.  “That is a very charitable thing to do.”

“The King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”[iii]

[i] James 2:26
[ii] James 1:5
[iii] Matthew 25:40

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